updated 11:40 am EDT, Sat March 24, 2012
Former Apple staff contends idea rejected
(Update: Margolis contextualizes) Former Apple TV engineer Mike Margolis has claimed that the new Apple TV interface was actually a previously rejected idea. He claimed that they had been "tossed out" five years prior in favor of the text-heavy design, as "SJ [Steve Jobs] didn't like them." Although only one designer had been directly responsible for user experience, a wider overhaul of the larger staff and a lack of Jobs' oversight led Margolis to think Apple had lost a necessary level of restraint.
"Now there is nobody to say 'no' to bad design," he argued.
The claims aren't likely to get confirmation from Apple and are at least partly a matter of opinion. Some have contended that the new Apple TV interface is meant to be easier to understand and, in some cases, helps reach certain interface elements faster. Speculation has also been raised that it's early preparation for an Apple TV platform with third-party app support, although the lack of significant permanent storage on current Apple TV boxes makes it more likely to focus on future firmware-based apps such as a possible Hulu Plus.
Jobs was often known for having made top-level decisions as to whether interface elements worked. However, most of the work and overall design approval even during his era came primarily from immediate management.
Update: Margolis used a follow-up response to TechCrunch to clarify his results. Jobs rejecting an idea wasn't "a huge deal," he said, as it wasn't uncommon for him to initially dislike a concept until it was modified and he came to appreciate it. He also acknowledged that the Apple TV interface he preferred had prefaced the popularity of iOS, and the new interface made more sense in the context of the iPad and iPhone.
"Steve was well known for rejecting ideas, tweaking them, and turning them into something even better," Margolis said. "And that’s a very good thing. One of my favorite parts of working at Apple was knowing that SJ said “no” to most everything initially, even if he later came to like it, advocate for it, and eventually proudly present it on stage. This helped the company stay focused and drove people to constantly improve, iterate, and turn the proverbial knob to 11 on everything." [via Macgasm]